« LK on "The Butcher's Cleaver" | Main | Bush is still "sure" about Iraq. »

17 March 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

David Habakkuk

The document mandating the removal of all 'full members' of the Baath, and the prohibition on their working in any government job, was called 'Coalition Provisional Authority Order Number 1', was it not -- the document disbanding the army, along with the ministries of Defense and Interior, 'Order Number 2.'

The famous 'Order Number 1' was that in which following the February 1917 Revolution the Petrograd Soviet instructed the soldiers of the Russian army to obey their officers only if their orders did not contradict the decrees of the Soviet.

Leon Trotsky described it as 'the only worthy document' of the February Revolution.

(See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Order_No._1 -- although the entry does appear somewhat confused.)


I saw Senator Clinton's speech on cspan and I hope to God we are lucky enough to get her in the White House. She's the only one even interested in leading.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I cannot believe that you take Mrs. Clinton's pronouncements as viable policy.

"UN..."? Iraqis despise UN.

"Combat the Black Market in Oil..."? Iranian government had tried for years to combat that with little success in Iran - and the state is functioning in Iran.

"Enlist the International Community to Stabilize the Region..." There is snow ball's chance in hell of other states coming to help US pull her chestnuts out of fire; not EU, not Russia, not Japan, not India, and not China.

And what could possibly Egypt or Saudi Arabia do; except sending their diplomats to Baghdad? And what of that?

Conferences will achieve nothing more than has been achieved so far.

Why do you regard her statements so highly?

W. Patrick Lang


I think your "criticism" is excessively negative. Plans exist for the purpose of creating a different future. The failures of the past shold not be allowed to prejudice the possibility of doing creative things in the future.

I know her and find her both plausible and trustworthy. p


"This group will be composed of key allies, other global powers, and all of the states bordering Iraq."

A bold policy statement for a politician who has shown heavy handed antagonism towards 2 of the 4 biggest of those states that border Iraq. It will be also interesting to see Saudi reaction to this, if the US doesn't want the Sunni/Shia power struggle being played out in Iraq.

Maybe by then the transfer of said struggle will have been sufficiently exported to Kuwait, Bahrain and Lebanon.




She may be "plausible and trustworthy" to people who know her, but she can't win with 43 percent of the national electorate in November. Should she pull a rabbit out of a hat and win the remaining primary states with 60+ percent of the vote, she won't carry any additional states not won by John Kerry in 2004.



Don't worry. That "heavy handed antagonism" was all for show. Political expediency is the order of the day when it comes to Sen. Clinton and foreign policy. She needs to look like Margaret Thatcher charging into the Falklands if she wants to get elected in the USA.

NEd MArdin

How difficult is it to leave Irak, Turks did it so did the Brits.
If they come over the border anywhere, fight them there as the Turkish Army does currently. WOuldn't it be cheaper in terms of money and lives? Leave them to their own devices, in the Middle East, everything levels out eventually.

jeff roby

I followed your link and then looked up Hillary's position on Israel/Palestine affairs. Her position is so one-sided pro-Israel that I can't imagine her having any credibility at all with the players who would have to be brought together to bring peace to Iraq and the rest of the region.


Col. Lang,

I think I have to mostly side with Babak on this one. To begin though, I do think HRC deserves a lot of credit for putting forth a plan - or rather, the outline for a plan - with this much detail. However, I think the plan's foundation rests on sandy assumptions.

First is the illusion that factions within Iraq, including the current government, the CLC's, etc. can be made to reconcile through threats of withholding assistance, which is essentially what she proposes here:

As President, Hillary will pursue a strategy that seeks to empower local leaders, but she will prioritize national accommodation, which is essential to stability. She will do this by using U.S. and international influence and assistance as leverage to press the Iraqis to reach agreement on key issues, including provincial elections, the hydrocarbon law, and on the overall nature of federalism. Hillary will press the United Nations into a central role in this effort.

Similar statements have been made regarding Pakistan and it's frankly vexing to see the extent to which the Democratic candidates believe that aid can be used as a coercive instrument in this region. HRC in particular should be aware of such limits given her husband's experience in south Asia.

And then there is the UN, which Babak notes above. The UN will not operate without security and whatever mandate the UNSC delivers is meaningless without security - particularly since the only nation that's capable of implementing such a mandate is the United States. Improving security in her plan really rests on reconciliation, but the $10k question is what she will do if reconciliation is not achieved and reduced force levels lead to more violence and less security.

Additionally, it's interesting she cites Bosnia and East Timor as examples to follow for a couple of reasons. First, both essentially legitimized partition as a valid option - is Hillary suggesting that some form of partition is on the table in Iraq (a concept I'm personally amenable to)?

Secondly, and more problematic, is that Bosnia and East Timor were both dependent and enabled by the intervention of large numbers (relative to the population) of foreign troops. How HRC and the UN will manage a similar feat in Iraq while reducing force-levels is unclear, particularly if that force-level reduction results in less stability and more violence, thereby preventing any non-military institution from operating there. For example in Iraq we have a population-to-force ratio of approximately 180. If troop levels drop to about 50k, then that increases to 540. IFOR, by comparison initially had a ratio of 74 but after more than a decade of peace and stability it's 1600. East Timor's population is only about a million, Bosnia 4 million compared to Iraq's 27 million. Similar force-to-population levels cannot be achieved in Iraq.

So it seems like HRC is betting the farm on being able to implement a political solution independent of security provided by the US military. I wish her the best of luck, but the cynic in me suggests that "political" reconciliation may not come quickly if at all.

Still, there is some good as well. Engaging Iraq's neighbors more than the Bush administration is long overdue - I just hope Iraqi interests are not sacrificed to assuage the parochial interests of its neighbors.

W. Patrick Lang

Andy, Babak, JR et al

OK. What's your "plan" or policy or whatever you want to call it? elect Obama? If that is your plan, then tell me what he is going to do.


There are no serious American political actors who are any less "in bed" with AIPAC than she. pl


"Enlist the international community to stabilise the region" - what does that actually mean? An international conference perhaps - the Concert of Nations which Col.Lang once suggested - with representations from the main Arab powers, Iran, Turkey, the EU,(or at least the UK and France) China, perhaps India and Pakistan - and Israel? "The region" to be stabilised being - where? Mesopotamia alone? The problem is that problem of Iraq wwill be seen to be connected to the whole balance of power and complex interlinked centres of instability and conflict through the Mid East and Muslim world. So not just Mesopotamia, but Mesopotamia and Lebanon? or both those and Palestine? Or even all those plus Afghanistan and Somalia? They all need stabilising and they all are in the Middle East or the "Greater" Middle East. The mind begins to boggle.

Peace on the ground in Iraq at least, is presumably the fundamental objective. This is the "stabilisation" Mrs Clinton refers to. Conferences and concerts alone cannot produce peace on the ground, surely. Troops are needed. Armed forces of occupation to replace the US troops who currently are maintaining a precarious semi-peace on the ground. 140,000 blue helmeted UN troops? From where? China has a large enough army, and Russia - but somehow it seems unlikely the US would contemplate a large force from those countries in the middle of the Mid East oilfields. The UK and Spain and Poland have or are pulling out of Iraq; they won't go back in. The rest of the EU? Ha ha - what - France, Germany? - not prepared to put troops on the ground in hostile areas of Afghanistan - they won't enter Iraq. Muslim Pakistan? Too involved in their own homeland. India, Canada, Australia? maybe - but 140,000? That leaves Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey and Syria. Iranians occupying Southern Iraq and Turks in Kurdistan and Baghdad with Saudi soldiers marching around? An improbable scenario.

"Enlist the international community to stabilise the region"? Sounds nice, admirable even. Exactly what is needed. But could it happen? Dream on.


we can expect hilary's plan to be a focus in the pennsylvania primary debate




We dont need stabilising, we need the US to stop destabilising.

It is not the plan that matters but who is on board. If the intentions are right, believable and honourable, she will have the Iranians (and by association the Syrians) on board. If she had them and the Saudis in agreement then the International community may be willing to send troops as most of the "insurgents" will have their respective backers reining them in and as I have said many times, AQ is small and easily defeatable once the local population turns on them in force.

However, what will the Iranian price be? Im guessing it'll have something to do with UN sanctions and a Nuclear programme.

Will she be willing to pay that price? Maybe, if its early on in her presidency she will have time to recover from what would be a big hit, but would it be a risk worth taking?

I would be surprised and impressed if it were.



I don't think there is any difference between Clinton's choices for a post-Bush Iraq and Obama's. The next president will find themselves in a world of hurt when it comes to the consquences of U.S. withdrawl from Iraq.

I find it amusing that when Hillary gives a foreign policy speech, she is deemed capable, smart, and "ready on day one." Obama can say the exact same thing. . .


. . .and he is seen as an inexperienced airy fairy dreamer.

She's got 6 years in the Senate and two terms as first lady. He's got two years in the Senate and ten years as a state legislator. She's 14 years older. I fail to see how that makes her better.

Just sayin'.



Hillary Clinton’s plan is the best the Interventionists can come up with. But, the United States is in the exact same position the Soviet Union was in Afghanistan; fighting a population and religion who will never compromise with the foreign invaders; a never ending war with costs that the Nation cannot afford.

You have indicated that as the troop levels decrease the potential for catastrophe in Iraq increases. Rather than the embracing a forever Global War on Terror, the USA had better starting being worried about a Wall Street Depression, Energy Independence and getting the troops home safely without initiating a collapse as spectacular as the Soviet Unions.

Nancy K

I think your statement that there are no other serious political actors any less in bed with AIPAC to be very telling. That is one of the reasons I will support Senator Obama, not because he is not serious, but because I think maybe he still has a foot on the floor. I'm sick of lobbies, any lobby, controlling or attempting to control the US.
Having said this, if Senator Clinton gets the nomination, I will vote for her. The throught of 100 years of war or whatever McCain attempted to say, is more than I and I think many Americans can bear.


Hillary's 'plan' is just more smoke and mirrors.

First, most of this is nothing new. It's largely the Baker Plan, condensed and warmed over.

Second, it begins to bring the troops home, but never commits to bringing most of them home. How does Hillary's "beginning to bring troops home" actually differ from Bush's reducing troops to pre-surge levels? Like Bush, she could always bring a token few home and then pause her 'beginning.'

Third, it never commits to ending the Occupation. Rather, it dangles the illusion of "stability" before our eyes--pacifying the wogs. This is a recipe for a tenuous colonial peace, supported by a substantial, ongoing troop presence and unending financial hemorrhaging.

Until Hillary publishes a true exit strategy, she's just blowing smoke and spinning mirrors.


The PBS documentary Frontline program did an excellent program, "The Lost Year In Iraq," in 2006 on the whole mess created by Bremer and the people who sent Bremer. The interviews reveal the WTF? that people who knew what they were doing were feeling as things spun out of control, like passengers on the bus in the "Speed" movie. I think they said that the first IED went off 72 hours after the Army was fired. I especially liked the part about rewriting Iraqi traffic laws--everyone knows that good traffic laws are the key to defeating an insurgency. Anyway, the documentary is available for viewing at their website:


Helena Cobban

Pat, I have to agree with Babak M's criticisms of Sen. Clinton's plan. As for a workable alternative, back in 2005 I started really fleshing one out and, even though I've tweaked it some since then, it still looks like a serious, workable plan.

The goal is to achieve a withdrawal of US troops from Iraq that is orderly, speedy, total, and generous (to Iraqis.) The main move is to hand over responsibility for convening and running the necessary negotiations to the UN, in a way that is far more serious than the "minor bit-part player" role that's all that Clinton offers them. There would be two negotiations, one internal and one involving all the P-5 and all Iraq's neighbors.

You can access various more detailed iterations of this plan here.

My main beefs with Sen. Clinton's plan are (1) it is not a plan for a total withdrawal, and thus both lacks incentives for the Iraqis and runs the risk of substantial numbers of US forces getting drawn back in, Vietnam-style, at any point; (2) She seems to assume that the US can manage/control all the negotiations involved with only a minor assist from the UN ; but it can't.

Also, as a professional woman I have to say that I find the website's repeated references to "Hillary" doing this, that, or the next thing in the international arena to be cloying, unprofessional, and unserious.

W. Patrick Lang


"as a professional woman I have to say that I find the website's repeated references to "Hillary" doing this, that, or the next thing in the international arena to be cloying, unprofessional, and unserious." I think her website uses this style as a means of distancing her from her husband's image.

I hope you believe that people of good will can differ over details.

What does "Vietnam style" mean? pl


Department of Backdrop:

Paul Krugman, who was country before country was cool, had this to say today:


That neatly sums up the political issue that will dominate the next President's agenda...not this President's because I don't think he can spell agenda.

In that context, the "debate" about withdrawing from Iraq is already over. We will. Quickly.

Stability in the ME? That would be Saudi Arabia and Israel continuing to sell out the Palestinians as long as they can.

robt willmann

A while back, an article appeared in Foreign Affairs magazine, I think it was, by Hillary Clinton about her proposed foreign policy. There was a post about it on this web site and I made a comment on it.

Previously, it seemed as if the good Colonel was positive about Ms. Clinton, and the post today brings that forward.

I must again diverge 180 degrees (or 200 degrees if you use the old Russian compass), and note my exception to Hillary's proclamation.

Whenever you hear or read something by Bill or Hillary Clinton, the first thing to do is to look for any weasel words.
Sure enough, in the introduction, pop goes the weasel, as we are told that she "outlined new proposals that build on her three-part plan to end the war responsibly".

What is her precise definition of--

1) "end", as in "end the war", and

2) "responsibly", as in end the war "responsibly"?

She will "start" removing the troops within 60 days, but "we cannot lose sight of our very real strategic interests in this region". Thus, the U.S. "will retain counterterrorism forces in Iraq and the region".

Retain counterterrorism forces "in the region"? A little glance at a map reveals that "the region" is a pretty big place. But Hillary "will ensure that our troops receive sufficient time at home between deployments to rest, reconnect with their families, and receive appropriate training for their next mission".

Their "next mission"? Where? Afghanistan? But we're already there. Syria? Lebanon? Somalia? Elsewhere in Africa? Venezuela, maybe?

Now if you think Blackwater is going to be out of business, think again. She will work to ban armed private military contractors providing security "for diplomatic personnel and performing mission-critical functions". Except for guarding diplomats and doing "mission-critical functions", the mercenaries will still be in business in Iraq.

While we are on this subject, has Hillary made an unequivocal statement that mercenaries will not be permitted to operate here in the U.S.A.? Remember Blackwater in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina?

In part II, Hillary has got her eye on oil, oil, and oil. And she wants to get the United Nations into the game.

She wants "to prioritize national accomodation" by using U.S. and international influence and assistance (meaning money?) "to press" the Iraqis to reach agreement on key issues, including, of course, "the hydrocarbon law".

Tell us, Hillary, is Iraq still going to get to keep only 12.5% of its oil (and supposedly around 17% for a few areas), under the proposed oil and gas law, with oil companies from the U.S., Britain, and Israel getting the rest (87.5%)? I have not seen Ms. Clinton suggest any different oil and gas law other than the existing proposal, also known as Grand Theft Oil. One might also wonder what moral, legal, or other basis the U.S. and any other country has to try to tell "sovereign" Iraq what "the law" should be concerning its huge reserves of oil and gas.

Part III speaks in its title of a new regional diplomatic initiative. However, the mission of the group will be "to develop and implement a strategy to create a stable Iraq". Notice that this is not the Colonel's proposal for a meeting to work on the problems of the other Middle Eastern countries, as well. It is to ensure that "the rest of the world plays its part in stabilizing Iraq".

Iraq is not "stable" because the U.S., Britain, Israel, and some other countries of "the world" meddled in its internal affairs.

If Hillary Clinton becomes president, the gangster foreign policy, with its vicious meddling in Iraq, will not change.

I have great respect for the Colonel's work in the tricky world of human intelligence gathering. But I have found, and continue to find, Bill and Hillary Clinton to be singularly, or doubly, untrustworthy.


Hillary the war hawk, Iran.

Speech at Princeton

floor speech

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad